P:R Roundtable: Iron Fist

Note: In this installment of our new column P:R Roundtable, the guys and gals here have set their sights on the Marvel’s recent revisions to the Iron Fist character in the pages of New Avengers. In the story, Iron Fist was spirited away to the Light Dimension by someone masquerading as Dr. Strange’s dead mentor the Ancient One. The Eye of Agamotto is in play and magic hijinx ensue, leaving Iron Fist with a new costume — taking his existing design (by David Aja) and putting into white and gold. – Chris Arrant

Chris: To give some extra background, New Avengers artist and friend of the site Stuart Immonen was kind enough to tell us what was going on behind the scenes. “It was in the script,” Immonen said. “I can only guess that it was meant as a visual clue to the experience Iron Fist had in the Light Dimension. Initially, we talked about it being temporary, but as a group decided that we liked the look. That’s about it– nothing earth-shattering.”

And the look has been carried over past the story-arc into Iron Fist’s appearances not only in New Avengers, but also his new miniseries Power Man & Iron Fist. Enough prattle — let’s see what our writers think of the design!

Vito: The thing about the “new” Iron Fist costume is that it’s just a change of a primary color, but the change is so bold.  White is a tough color to pull off, but when you really consider old kung-fu movies and the, for lack of a better word, elder characters usually wear white.  Think of Ryu from Street Fighter or Pi Mei from Kill Bill.  Danny Rand certainly is a kung-fu master, and now, his attire reflects that.

Rachel: Has anyone one else noticed that Iron Fist’s costume is IDENTICAL to Jean Grey’s phoenix togs, save for a slightly higher neckline and a different mythical flying thing?

That said, I think it’s a shame that they skipped the Dark Phoenix colors–that was always my favorite palette for the costume. Nor am I fond of the huge-field-of-white-and-gold effect–it screws up the balance of pages he’s on, plus it’s gonna be hellishly hard to get stains out. White can work when there’s texture–think Power Girl or Colleen Wing–but this is just distracting.

Cover to "Power Man & Iron Fist" #5 (2010)

Chris: When this new costume variation first popped up in New Avengers I thought it was a temporary thing, but it’s really grown on me and gives Danny Rand a more mystical strata. Although not too different than his previous costume (which debuted in the Immortal Iron Fist series and was designed by David Aja), the striking white-and-gold (instead of green-and-yellow) really plays up Iron Fist. It’s like he’s Super-Saiyan.

Jesse: For a master martial artist and skilled puncher of things, Iron Fist looks pretty ridiculous in an all white and gold get up. I completely get Jonathan’s take on the reason behind the suit, but it seems uninspired. I feel like I am looking at the character select screen on a Street Fighter game, disappointed that my friend picked Chun-Li before I could, so I GUESS I’ll choose the pink version. Same costume, but leaves me wanting the original. That said, there are better ways to convey that Danny is a mystical mentor than a variant costume.

Jonathan: I’m in favor of the new design – tentatively.

I’ve been a fan of (Power Man &) Iron Fist going back a long ways, and I have a lot of affection for the old high-collar-and-unbuttoned-shirt outfit. One of the things I think the old costume did fairly well is to balance out the rather heavy green base color – so much flesh was showing and the yellow elements were so extravagant that the green provided a solid launching pad for an energetic look, which is important for a martial arts character. The early costume may have been objectively ludicrous, but it provided Danny Rand with a lot of energy, particularly with all the sharp, electric angles in it.

Iron Fist previous design by David Aja, as seen in "The Immortal Iron Fist" series

The most recent costume before this one, I didn’t particularly like, largely because it got rid of the dynamic angles and drastically dimmed the yellow and flesh tones. Besides that, the green was significantly darker, and the result was that Iron Fist was visually duller – not a lot of punch or implication of dramatic energy in that one.

This current palette brings back ALL that energy and much more, it’s vibrant and dynamic and even when he’s standing still, it pops. I did notice that they used Dave Cockrum’s original Phoenix palette (Between this, “Dark ” Iron Fist and his original costume colors, will Danny ever NOT wear the same color as Jean Grey? Is a blue-and-orange Iron Fist in the works?). So I like it – IF – it continues to have something to do with the character story-wise. It seems that the new focus on Iron Fist will be as a mystic character first and a martial artist second, and the colors suit that nicely. It’s also nice that, with the cut of the costume and the regal gold-on-white, he looks more like a mythical martial arts master inasmuch as his storyline deals prominently with his role as an instructor and mentor.

If it doesn’t continue to relate to his storyline, well, then it looks inappropriate. If, for instance, he goes back to being little more than a street-level kung-fu fighter, he’s going to look like he’s wearing a white tux to a mud wrestling event.

Jessica: I’m not really up on my Iron Fist, but I’m with Rachel in terms of the white spandex.  The color palate is definitely more vibrant than the previous costume, as Jon says, but I just can’t look at it without thinking “Sweat stains.  Sweat stains everywhere.”  But that may just be my damage. :)

Joel: The white is a hard sell. Unlike Jon, I really liked the previous costume. As endearing as the Seventies funk fu outfit was, the last costume was one I could take seriously. Distinct yet elegantly pared down, it spoke of a man with who had things to do and was going to get them done. The new costume seems to pretty much be the previous one with the ostentation dialed up a notch. I can follow the idea that this represents some kind of spiritually leveled-up Iron Fist, but I think there are much more interesting routes one could have taken to that end.

People keep mentioning Phoenix, but I’m thinking of Mary Marvel. Now, there was superhero that could make white and gold work.

Marvy Marvel from "Infinite Crisis" #3 illustrated by J.G. Jones

Jessica: Oh God, now I’m picturing Danny Rand in this [Editor’s Note: See image at right!]


14 comments to “P:R Roundtable: Iron Fist”
  1. I agree with the notion that it makes him look “more mystical.” It also makes him look…well, like he leveled up. I feel like the green Iron Fist garb is like, journeymen’s garb, & the white is the master’s.

  2. not that my random opinion means much… but, i can see how white and gold could evoke a more mystical lean, but i’d expect the costume to be more flowing or robe like, NOT a skin tight cat suit. i think it screams disco now more than ever. another downside (besides keeping it clean) is your NEVER gonna sneak up on someone if your wearing white and gold.

    now i’m not entirely opposed to color change though, but i don’t know if the dark phoenix colors would be right. what i’d really like to see though, maybe only in the summer months, is for the tattoo to fly out into the open.

  3. Nice analysis. I wish that they’d give Iron Fist a more martial-artisty costume and less of a body-suity thing. Like: http://i.newsarama.com/images/shalveyTheHand_02.jpg I think his costume is a little under-designed, really. But White Ranger Iron Fist is my preference.

    Can we have a moratorium on mentioning stains every time a character has a white costume?

  4. Normally, I am a big believer in spandex on comic book superheroes, but I would like to see something a little more Kung Fu-ey and less superheroey on Iron Fist, especially if his new role is more as a mystic than a fist-fighter.

  5. So, what gets me is how his recent costume in both green and white looks so… un-Kung Fu-ey (I checked. That isn’t the technical term). Maybe it’s just the “I do it so I know best, nyah nyah” complex, but I think the gold and white would look better with something that’s loose with frog buttons (those little knots and loops) going down on an angle. I mean, he looks like some dude who found a generic super hero outfit, stenciled on a Wikkid Dragon from AC Moore, and went to mangling his mother’s favorite shawl for his sash and mask. I don’t mind the mask; he’s a Western hero and all. It’s just that I feel like he’d look better with something that harkens back to a more traditional Kung Fu style of dress, especially after having some big crazy spiritual experience. Those kinds of things leave folks wily and secretive, and large sleeves to hide an incoming Phoenix Eye or Monkey Claw would suit that kind of learning well. But… mreh. Whatever.

  6. I am not a big fan of the “Magic Fist” costume, as I’ve been calling it, but I just noticed for the first time that the white part extends up and under the sash/mask, like there’s some kind of hood or cowl that’s part of the suit proper and the mask goes over that. Is it weird that that makes me like it slightly more?

  7. I’m curious if anyone else has made the connection that – in oriental cultures – that white is the color of “death.”

  8. I just don’t get having these dangling ropes hanging off his waist and head. It seems to me the same trouble that long-haired heroes would have: what keeps any opponent from using these against you?! You’re basically asking for trouble in a fight. And this white/gold? Nope. You can see him coming from miles away. He’s a huge target. I always thought that most fighter heroes should have more subdued colors anyways.

  9. Danny in the white in gold is perfect. I liked the updated look Aja gave him but this just takes it to the next level, like after his mini he has ascended his original status and become a true master. I like it!

  10. While yeah, white is the color of “death,” in Wu Xing it’s the color of the Metal element, which would work in conjunction with a more golden take on the yellow along with the white. I mean, he’s “Iron” Fist, and if we’re going to get real interesting the Dragon represents the Wood element; in Wu Xing, or Five Phases elemental theory, “Metal chops down wood.”

    With all of this in mind, while White makes him stand out like a sore thumb, that has as much to do with his mastery as it does with its auspiciousness to his nature. I’m still not feeling the Tight Spandex in regards to Kung Fu, cuz that kind of thing’s going to ride all up and down your buttcheeks and get nasty and sweaty in the WORST ways, but I like the color choice.

    Now, if only someone who actually did some kind of martial art would write this stuff it might not seem so damn stupid. “That’s a capoeira/wing chun/savate/whatever exotic martial art I just Wikied this morning move!” Ugh.

  11. I’ll admit that I don’t read Iron Fist, but I do like the costume. There really aren’t enough costumes that use white as a main color.

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